David Takes a Census of the Army – Part 1 (2 Samuel 24:1 – 17; 1 Chronicles 21:1 – 17)

Scripture Text:

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2 Samuel 24:1 – 17

1 Chronicles 21:1 – 17

Questions:

1. When you were first learning math, what did you use?

  • computer
  • calculator
  • adding machine
  • slide rule
  • abacus
  • fingers

2. Did your parents ever make you “choose your consequences”? What difficult choices do you remember making?

3. This story presents us with many theological and ethical problems as we seek insight into David’s dilemma. Be sure to study both the 2 Samuel text and the 1 Chronicles text carefully. What prompts David’s request to take a census?

  • God’s anger
  • Satan’s ruse
  • David’s pride
  • David’s insecurity
  • Some external threat to national security

4. What does your answer to Question #3 say about who lies behind evil acts (consider also James 1:13 – 15)? How could a man after God’s own heart be duped by Satan?

5. As for the census itself, what’s involved in terms of time, personnel and money?

6. Why is David so conscience-striken (verse 10)? Is taking a census always a wrong, foolish or sinful waste of human resources (Numbers 1:2, 3; Numbers 26:2 – 4)? Didn’t the Lord ultimately direct him to do so?

7. If the Lord did ask David to take the census, then why the subsequent punishment (verses 11 – 17)? Why three options? And why punish the people for something David ordered?

8. Is God working at cross-purposes when He grieves over the punishment inflicted on Israel by His own angel (verse 16)?

9. In what ways are you proud of your accomplishments, acquisitions or responsibilities? Behind the proud image you show the world, are you also insecure? Where are you tempted to lean upon the strength of our superior assets rather than in weakness depend on God?

10. Though you may have prayed for strength to achieve great things for God, where has God made you weak, that you might learn to humbly obey Him?

11. Finally, another ethical dilemma. How does Joab remain true to his own conscience while taking David’s census? Was his secret (1 Chronicles 21:6) a lie? Was it justified by the circumstances?

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